John Botanzos (originally Betanzos) was born in New York City, the second son of Ambrosio Betanzos and Josefa Gorroño. He was the beloved husband of Vincenza (Nancy) Gigante for nearly 71 years. They were married in Brooklyn, NY on January 9, 1943 and lived there until 1973 when they built their home in Plattekill.
When John was two years old, the family emigrated to Bizkaia in the Basque region of Spain, his parents' homeland. John had an older brother Joseph and his sister, Vittori, was born shortly after they arrived in Spain. They settled in a town called Ea where John went to school and studied the txistu (a Basque flute accompanied by a drum called a tamboril). He was an altar server in their parish until he was fourteen years old and "the cassock just below my knees and Don Pedro said it was time I stopped".
John was about five years old, when his father returned to New York to earn a wage and support his family. At the age of 16, John left Ea to join his father and brother in New York. He worked at odd jobs until he was old enough to work on a passenger ship as a cook's assistant. He joined the US Army in 1942 and served in the South Pacific until 1945 as a cook on the front lines. He told stories of loading the trucks with meals and serving rations to soldiers in temporary tents.
After the war, John returned home to Nancy and met his two year old son James for the first time. He worked as a cook's assistant in New York and studied to be a Baker through the GI Bill. He went to work for Sucrest, a sugar manufacturer and refinery, in New York until 1973. When they moved upstate, he became employed by the Wallkill Central School District, as a baker and the cook-manager of the High School cafeteria until he retired in 1985.
John was a gifted player of the txistu and tamboril and often performed at Basque gatherings and ceremonies. John also loved sharing stories about family, friends and his heritage and his pastimes included baking, cycling and watching sports on TV.
John leaves behind his loving wife, Vincenza (Nancy) Botanzos, his grandchildren: John Betanzos and his wife Meghan of Modena, Joseph Betanzos of Plattekill, and Rose Wohlrab and her children, Emily and Sarah Wohlrab of Plattekill and their father Timothy Wohlrab of Marlboro. He will also be missed by his sister, Vittori, his sister-in-law, Mari Fe, brother-in-law, Leo and sisters-in-law: Ann and Vilma and many nieces, nephews and cousins in Bizkaia and the US. He was predeceased by his son James; daughter-in-law Helen; brother, Joseph; sister-in-law, Rose and brothers-in-law: Gerardo, John and Peter.
Visitation hours will be from 2 to 5pm on Sunday, December 29th at White and Venuto Funeral Home, 188 North Plank Road, (Rte 32) Newburgh, NY.
A Funeral Mass will be offered at 10am, Monday, December 30th at Our Lady of Fatima Church, Route 32, Plattekill, NY. Father John Jaume will officiate. Burial will follow the Mass in St. Charles Cemetery, Gardiner, NY.